Charlene accused wins sentence cut

Iyad Albattikhi
Iyad Albattikhi
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A BUSINESSMAN once accused of murdering Blackpool teenager Charlene Downes has had a jail term cut for assaulting a teenage girl.

A judge sitting with two magistrates at Preston Crown Court reduced Iyad Albattikhi’s sentence from 20 weeks to 12.

The 34-year-old Jordanian, who runs the Mr Beanz takeaway on Dickson Road, had been convicted at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court following a trial on a charge of common assault.

In June last year, an 18-year-old girl Albattikhi had been dating had decided to leave the takeaway to meet up with a new boyfriend.

Albattikhi approached her as she stood at a bus stop outside and suddenly headbutted her in the face, causing her nose to bleed.

The court was told it appeared CCTV had been tampered with because there was no footage between the hours of 4am and 5.15am that day, said Miss Kath Johnson, for the victim.

Albattikhi claimed to police she had struck him and that he had automatically headbutted her, believing he would be struck again.

He said he had “accidentally” deleted the CCTV footage because he had been drunk.

Albattikhi had no previous convictions.

His barrister Rachel Faux submitted a suspended sentence would have been more appropriate.

She said: “It was a minor injury which resulted. There is no evidence of a fracture.

“The top and bottom of it was she got a nose bleed.”

Miss Faux added: “He (Albattikhi) is a businessman. He is the sole proprietor, without who the business inevitably fails.

“A custodial sentence will have a devastating effect on his business.

He has now served three weeks’ custody. In itself it has been an unpleasant experience.”

In announcing their decision, Judge Anthony Russell said: “We have considered very carefully whether such a sentence could be suspended.

“We have come to the conclusion that is not a possibility in this case.

“It was a nasty offence, carried out in the street, completely unnecessarily.

“A factor which must be taken into account is the appellant has effectively continued to deny the offence and not accepted his responsibility.

“But we do feel that 20 weeks imprisonment was too severe and are therefore reducing it to 12 weeks”.

A defence costs order of £250 was awarded.

Several years ago Albattikhi had been accused of murdering Charlene Downes – the Blackpool schoolgirl who disappeared in 2003.

A jury were unable to reach a verdict and the case collapsed before it was due to be retried.